A look into the holiday’s history shows why some cities are starting to shy away from the typical October 12th holiday.
Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue to “discover” America in 1492. While we know that Columbus did not actually land on U.S. soil, but rather on the Caribbean islands, students still get out of school, government buildings still shut down and many people still get a day off every second Monday in October in observance of Columbus Day. But what’s the holiday all about?
Today, anti-Catholicism and discrimination against European immigrants is not as prevalent as it was 100 years ago and as such the Columbus Day holiday has evolved. Instead of celebrating immigrant spirit, the holiday is viewed as a celebration of American exploration and achievement without acknowledging the colonialism and massacre of natives that came with it.
Therefore many cities have started to change their Columbus Day celebrations. The state of Colorado has adopted October 12th as Frances Xavier Cabrini Day in order to continue celebrating Catholic Italian-American immigrants without celebrating Columbus himself. Other places, like Arizona and the cities of Houston and Grand Rapids have started honoring Indigenous People’s Day to recognize Columbus’ acts against native islanders he came in contact with.
This is not to change the holiday’s original intent of celebrating immigrant achievements and contributions, but rather to change the symbol used to convey it. Immigrants have always played a crucial role in the country’s history and it’s important to recognize their contributions, whether it be through Columbus Day or other means.
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